The weather atop Mauna Kea has cooled off, but the heat on Gov. David Ige to rescind his emergency proclamation tied to the protest over the Thirty Meter Telescope continues to ratchet up.
Following calls from US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i—District 2) and the Hawaiian Caucuses in both the Hawai‘i State Senate and House of Representatives to kill the emergency declaration and seek another path forward, 10 elected officials at both the state and county levels doubled down on that request in a statement released Monday, July 22, 2019.
“The emergency declaration violates the aloha spirit that binds our society through care, compassion and a commitment to the common good,” the release stated. “We are asking Gov. Ige to show aloha for the ʻāina and the people of Hawai‘i by repealing the unjustified emergency proclamation and allowing those for whom the mauna is sacred ground to continue assembling their voices.”
Hawai‘i County Councilmembers Maile David, Karen Eoff and Ashley Kierkiewicz were among those to sign the statement, as was state Sen. Kai Kahele of Hilo. Also signing were Sen. Mike Gabbard of O‘ahu, state Reps. Tina Wildberger of Maui and Amy Perruso of O‘ahu, Maui County Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and Kaua‘i County Councilmembers Mason Chock and Felicia Cowden.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a former state senator who represented large swaths of west Hawai‘i Island before his election, visited the protesters atop the mountain Monday. He told Hawaii News Now that if an agreement between sides can’t be struck, it may be cause for TMT to seek other locations for its telescope.
“One project can’t be allowed to disrupt the fabric of our state’s ‘ohana,” Lt. Gov. Green said to Hawaii News Now. “So if there can’t be a brokered peace that prevents that, then the TMT would have to move on.”
Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Senior Communications Manager Dan Dennison provided updates on the situation atop Mauna Kea throughout Monday. He estimated roughly 1,500 protesters on the mountain as of Monday afternoon.
In a press release, Dennison also noted that many people are climbing the pu‘u across the road at Pu‘uhuluhulu. The area is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The state asks anyone walking up the pu‘u to follow sanitation procedures to prevent the spread of Rapid ‘Ohia Death. Additionally, DHHL and DLNR/DOFAW ask that everyone stay on established trails, do not remove plants and practice good stewardship of the ʻāina.
More information on the DLNR report and Gov. Ige’s comments about the use of alcohol and marijuana in the protest zone last week can be found by visiting the Big Island Now website.